By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A bill that would require BB guns and similar weapons to be brightly colored, drafted in response to the shooting death of a 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy, passed its first major hurdle in Sacramento today.
The bill made it out of the Senate’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday on a 4-1 vote, over the opposition of the gun lobby.
It would require BB, pellet and airsoft guns to be brightly colored or translucent so that they are not mistaken for the real thing.
Lopez was shot and killed Oct. 22 by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy, reportedly after the deputy mistook Lopez’s BB-style gun for an authentic assault rifle.
“By passing this bill, we improve public safety. It’s that easy,” Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch testified at Tuesday’s hearing.
Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, a co-author of the bill, told the committee Lopez’s death was a “preventable incident.”
“This young man would be alive today if this law was the law of the state of California,” she said.
Ed Worley, the National Rifle Association’s spokesman in California, expressed opposition to SB 1999, which he described as “overly broad.”
Outside the hearing, Worley presented the bill as a de-facto ban on BB guns and similar weapons because “what boy wants a bright blue Daisy rifle?”
Sen. Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley, who voted against the bill, said “orange or pink guns” would not help police when they are faced with a split-second decision whether to use lethal force.
“I would not evaluate the situation is ‘OK’ because I see a fluorescent gun,” he said.